Craft Sportswear is built on a foundation of high-end trail gear and the Craft Pure Trail is now the brand’s top-of-the-line trail running shoe. It’s got Craft’s typical fit but adds a supercritical midsole with Cr Foam. Cr Foam first appeared over the summer on the road-to-trail focused Craft Nordlite Ultra and the carbon-plated road race-ready Craft Nordlite Speed.
Can Cr Foam make the tricky jump to a trail shoe and maintain a nice squish without being too unstable? Let’s find out.
Craft Pure Trail
Weight: Men’s 11.1 oz., Women’s 8.5 oz.
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Craft Pure Trail, Craft’s top-of-the-line trail shoe, has a nice midsole and trail-ready outsole but upper and fit issues hold it back from a place among the best trail shoes.
Drew: The Craft Endurance Trail that Sam and I reviewed in April used Craft’s Px Foam and felt bottom-heavy. The Craft Pure Trail upgrades to Cr Foam and feels more balanced despite the very thin upper (more on that later). There’s less than an ounce difference between the two shoes but the Pure Trail feels a lot lighter. The change in perceived weight goes a long way to feeling better connected with the ground when navigating tricky terrain.
The Cr Foam itself provides a slight squish that ends up being firmer than other supercritical foams on the market. That’s a good thing. It’s just soft enough to protect and mute rocks, roots, and other gravel without threatening the shoe’s stability or ground feel.
The forefoot and midfoot rock plate, bright pink on my pair, does its job well and adds to the experience in a way that made me wish the Endurance Trail had the same plate. It’s not propulsive but offers extra stability and protection when the ball of your foot hits something sharper or knobbier. For me, it’s Craft’s best trail midsole to date.
Since Craft introduced the Pure Trail in Chamonix at UTMB, I imagine they’re confident it can handle the most technical of trails. But by virtue of Sam living in Utah, he tackles much more technical terrain than I do so I’m curious how the midsole worked out for him.
Sam: Like Drew touched on, I found the Craft Pure Trail’s midsole felt a lot lighter than the Endurance Trail. It keeps you low to the ground and provides good comfort for your feet without sacrificing weight. Personally, I enjoyed the responsiveness of the Endurance Trail; however, it led to a less-than-stable ride at high speeds. This midsole is more balanced and firm which means that moving quickly over technical terrain is much more approachable.
The longest run I put on this shoe was 12 miles. I’d be curious about how this shoe will show up on ultra distances, as it just didn’t feel as soft underfoot. That being said, the light ride and stability mean that your foot won’t get as fatigued over longer distances.
Drew: The Craft Pure Trail upper is listed as a “one-piece TPU mesh upper” but it looks like a ripstop version of Nike’s Vaporweave or the stuff Salomon used on the S/Lab Phantasm 2. It doesn’t absorb water, which was great for me on rainy days, and it takes abuse really well. My pair has hit lots of trail debris and doesn’t look beat up.
Despite all that good about the upper’s construction I find its fit to be perplexing. The shoe widens nicely from heel to forefoot and is plenty accommodating for all foot types. But, the lacing system just isn’t built to dial in the fit up front if you don’t have a wide forefoot. I found my forefoot sliding back and forth within the shoe even with my laces tightened to extremes. The heel lockdown was good but the front of the shoe is just sloppy. I’d keep that in mind if you have anything but a wide forefoot.
Luckily, Sam and his wider forefoot can tell us how the shoe feels for him.
Sam: Despite having a wider forefoot, I agree 100% with Drew. I can’t quite understand what the exact issue is, but something is missing in terms of foot security towards the front of the shoe. Where the Craft Pure Trail excels with a stable midfoot, the upper (or perhaps the actual footbed in the shoe) is loose and allows tons of horizontal movement. I tried a few different lacing methods and couldn’t get it to improve.
Over steeper or more technical terrain, my foot tends to slide in all directions, even feeling as though it’s slipping off the footbed. Sadly, I can’t use this shoe on anything steeper than about 15 degrees. It’s fine on the uphill but coming back down steep sections my foot slides to the very front of the shoe and horizontally off of the footbed. Frankly, it’s not a safe ride. I didn’t experience this with the Endurance Trail, so I’m not sure what difference was made with this upper, as both are described as a single TPU weave. This may be a case of going too minimal with the upper.
Drew: The lugs on the Craft Pure Trail are nothing to write home about in terms of length but they do the job. I had no slippage in wet conditions where I was up and down a trail with plenty of vertical and a hill called the Widowmaker (Editor’s Note: that sounds dangerous).
I’ve found all my previous Craft Trail shoes to grip well across all the trail conditions I encounter and the Pure Trail’s outsole was no different.
Sam: Echoing Drew here. Seems to be a pretty standard 4-5mm lug pattern with a grippy rubber. I didn’t find myself slipping on looser uphill terrain. I was impressed with the Craft Pure Trail’s outsole and find it much burlier than the Endurance Trail, which I’m sure was by design.
Is the Craft Pure Trail wide foot friendly?
Drew: Yes, the Craft Pure Trail is wide foot friendly. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Craft shoes are actually better if you have a wider foot. Lengthwise, they fit true to size but wide footers who can fill the forefoot will have the best possible experience.
Sam: Definitely friendly to wide feet. The Craft Pure Trail opens up towards the forefoot.
Is the Craft Pure Trail worth $170?
Drew: That’s tough. I’d venture probably not. Looking at our list of Best Trail Running Shoes, I think you can get a shoe that’s just as good for $10-$20 less. My opinion may change as inflation continues to drive shoe prices up, but for now, I’d look for a coupon to get that price down a few bucks before you press the buy button.
Sam: I agree with Drew here. Because of the issues with the upper, my use of the Craft Pure Trail is limited on Utah trails. For $170, I’d say you need a jack-of-all-trades shoe that can be your daily driver.
Craft Pure Trail Summary
Drew: The Craft Pure Trail fits perfectly as Craft’s highest-end trail shoe. The Cr Foam midsole with its rock plate provides a fun ride on the trails and its traction delivers what’s expected. However, the upper needs to be a lot better for those of us without a super wide forefoot. It’ll also be a struggle for Craft to justify the $170 price tag to consumers, but both of those factors can be mitigated by foot shape and wallet size. This is a high-performing, fun shoe…but you’ll need to make sure it’s a good fit for your feet.
Sam: The Pure Trail is a tricky shoe for me. It’s comfortable, fits well, provides a nice midsole and trail-ready outsole. On paper and by design, it has all the features of a shoe that should be able to handle most, if not all, trails. However, the foot slippage is a real issue and something to consider. This shoe is fine for me on very moderate inclines or flat trails, but anything I’d consider steep I can’t use this shoe on. Make sure it works for your foot.